When Capitalism Became a Shadow
Or Why Contemporary American Cinema Can Help Us Understand the Financial Crisis
What would be the image of capitalism? How would it look like? Would it be possible to capture in the immediacy of an image what by the definition can be grasped only through a complex web of intellectual mediations given by the critique of political economy: that is, the exploitation of labor? Since the time when Eisenstein was trying to think about a cinematographic version of Karl Marx’s Das Kapital, the relationship between cinema and the representation of labor exploitation has always been problematic. Many films were made about revolutions and historical moments of popular uprising, but only a few were made with the purpose of addressing a nonhumanistic portrait of labor exploitation. This problem that is haunting political cinema since its beginnings, came back to be strongly addressed in the last year when many films which came out in United States were trying to find a path of representation of the most important historical event of the latest years: the 2008 financial breakdown. How would it be possible to bring the abstractness of the economic crisis back to the roots of an immediate understandable representation? How would it be possible to make out of the aerial and intangible financial capital, the concreteness and the harshness of social conflicts?
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